Misti Murphy, New Release, Romance, Sexy Bad Books, Tami Lund, Uncategorized

Sexy Bad Halloween – First Chapter!

Chapter One

ALEX

 

“I’m not usually such a procrastinator,” I say as I burst through the door of the costume shoppe—so the sign hanging from the eaves proclaims—and bustle inside, determined to get this annoying task over with.

The single occupant of the store pauses in the process of doing who knows what to a silver and blue dress with a billowing, floor-length skirt, and glances over her shoulder. “Welcome to Victoria’s Vintage Costumes.”

“Are you Victoria?” I move away from the door, glancing at a grouping of mannequins dressed in suits with frilly cuffs and dresses with skirts as wide as they are long. There are other statues dressed in flapper dresses and some in zoot suits and still others in—are those animals? They look frighteningly real. Although ridiculously large. Like, nightmare-inducing large.

“Technically, yes. But I go by Tori, even though I’m not.”

There might be a political joke in her statement, but I’m too focused on my task to try to work it out, so I say nothing.

“Well, anyway, I take it you have to attend a party tonight?” She climbs down from a stepladder and whips a tape measure out of the pocket in her capris as she strides toward me. Her hair is a rainbow—pink and blue and green and purple, twisted into a braid that drapes over her shoulder and topped with one of those fake flower wreath-like decorations sold at county fairs and German festivals. And here, apparently, as I note a tarnished silver rack perched on a nearby glass case is dripping with them.

She’s wearing a simple white tank top, and there’s a tattoo on her shoulder that disappears down her back. I’ve never really cared one way or the other about tattoos, but I want to get closer to inspect this one. Maybe it’s the smooth, satin-looking skin on her neck.

Or maybe it’s the braless boobs staring me in the face.

Shaking my head, I say, “No. I need a Halloween costume.”

She freezes mid-step and stares at me like I’ve said something insanely ridiculous. “Did you say Halloween?”

“Yes.”

“The holiday that falls on October thirty-first each year?”

I frown. “Yes, that’s the one.”

“The one that’s two months away?”

Yes, this is the Halloween I’m speaking of. Not sure why she needs so much clarification. Last time I checked, that particular holiday hasn’t changed in, well, not in my lifetime at least. And considering we look to be about the same age, I’d say not in hers either.

“That’s two months away,” she repeats, still staring at me like I’ve lost my marbles. “I haven’t even begun to set up my Halloween displays. My costumes left over from last year are still in storage, and the new ones I ordered won’t be here for at least two weeks. It’s still summer, for Christ’s sake.”

My gaze bounces around the shop again. “There are a ton of costumes here.”

“Yes, but they aren’t Halloween costumes.”

Something about this exchange feels a lot like dèjá vu. As if someone snapped their fingers and took me back to my childhood. There was this girl who lived next door to me. Her name was Victoria, and we were polar opposites. I said tomahto, she said tomato, and we’d argue until I got sick of it and let her have her way. She’d never let me have the last word…ever.

“Wait—Victoria Ruben?”

She looks up sharply.

“Vicks?” I give the rainbow hair a cursory glance and then dismiss it. Hair could easily be altered. But eyes…those vivid green eyes had always felt as though they were staring into my soul whenever they looked at me. Considering we lived next door to each other for ten years, that happened a lot.

“Ugh. No one has called me Vicks VapoRub in a decade, at least. Not since middle school.” She narrows her eyes and studies me until the light pops on over her head. Not literally, of course, but her face brightens with recognition after a few moments.

“Alex? Holy cripes, Alex Darling? Well, aren’t you a blast from my past. How the hell are you?” She grasps my bicep and gives it a squeeze, then leaves her hand there while staring at my shirtsleeve. “Wow.”

“Wow what?” I glance down at her hand now roaming my arm and shoulder, almost like she’s giving me a massage. It feels kind of good. Must to her, too, if the state of her nipples is any indication.

“You’ve filled out. I mean, you’re still on the skinny side and, not surprisingly, tall as all get out, but damn.”

While Victoria, er, Tori’s childhood nickname had been based around her name, mine were all about my stature. Bean Pole, Daddy Long Legs, Gandalf, Q-Tip. I’ve heard them all—and I’m pretty sure Victoria came up with every single one of them.

“So have you,” I retort, and then snap my mouth shut because where the hell did my filter run off to?

She glances down at her perky nips and chuckles. “Yeah, they tend to do that when I rub buff guys’ arms.”

Unlike me, Vicks never had a filter. I clear my throat and avert my gaze like the polite guy my mother raised me to be. “So, you’ve moved back to Chicago?”

“Yep. Your mom may have run mine off, but she can’t keep me away.”

“She didn’t run her off,” I protest, but it’s weak. Because we both know what happened that summer after eighth grade.

“Well, technically, your mom caught my mom and your dad fooling around in a department store dressing room.”

Yeah, I remember. I was with my mother that day. We were at Macy’s, shopping for shorts because I’d grown another few inches since the summer before. My dad was supposed to be at work, and who the hell knew what Vicks’s mom should have been doing. Certainly not bending over and begging my dad to give it to her from behind while in a public place. Or any place, really.

“And after she went home and stewed on it for a few hours, your mom came over to my house and threatened mine with a cleaver. It was the first time I’d ever seen a cleaver. After your mom calmly walked back out the door, I had to ask mine what it was.”

I grimace. “You guys moved out the next day.”

“Actually, we went to a hotel while my mom regrouped and figured out what the hell to do.”

“Which turned out to be stealing my dad and moving to Washington.”

“I wouldn’t say it was stealing, per se. He went quite willingly.”

Yeah, I remember that part, too. My mom was a wreck. I’d had to push aside my grieving over losing my father—which was okay because it wasn’t really much of a loss anyway—to help her figure out how to get along as a single parent.

“So.” I clear my throat. “How is my dad anyway?” I haven’t talked to him since the day he chose her mom over mine. Her kids over me.

Vicks lifts one shoulder. “No idea. Haven’t seen him in, I don’t know, ten years or so. I think he moved to LA. Haven’t heard from him since.”

“Oh man, that sucks. I’m sorry.” Sure, her mother shouldn’t have hooked up with my dad, a married man at the time, but neither did she deserve for him to treat her the same way he treated me.

She flaps her hand. “Trust me, he wasn’t worth keeping.”

I agree with her, despite the nights I laid awake, listening to my mother cry herself to sleep for months after he left. Or maybe I agree because of that.

After a moment, I ask, “So, how is the rest of your family? Your mom, your brother? Did they move back too?”

“Two brothers now.” She lifts her pointer and middle finger. “And no, Mom and Jace didn’t come back to Chicago. Mom’s still in Washington, and I’m not really sure where Jace is at the moment.”

“Your mom had another kid?” I know I shouldn’t judge—glass houses and all—but that means unless Ms. Ruben, or whatever her last name is now, got back together with either Vicks’s or Jaces’s dad, she now has three kids from three different men.

Vicks toys with her tape measure, tugging the strip out of the small plastic holder and then letting it snap back in, over and over, until my arm lifts of its own accord, ready to grab the thing from her hand.

Finally, she stops and stuffs the contraption into her pocket. “Yeah, well, she’s not very good at using protection when she’s mad, and apparently she’s a big fan of angry sex.”

Not something I ever needed to know about her mother. Or anyone’s mother, really.

“She’s way better at producing children than she is at taking care of them,” she adds. “Hence the reason I’m back here.”

Poor Vicks. I can’t imagine what her life has been like since they left Chicago twelve years ago. I mean, sure, my mom had to go back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for my entire life up to that point, had to fight for every pitiful penny my dad coughed up for child support, but not once did I ever feel like she did not love me, did not want me, did not have every intention of taking care of me to the best of her ability.

And if Vicks is still anything like she was when we hung out in elementary and middle school, I cannot tell her I feel sorry for her. Even at a young age, she had pride by the bucket full.

She shakes her head and chuckles humorlessly as she steps behind the glass-encased counter positioned to the left of the entrance. “I think we could both use a stiff one, huh?”

“A stiff one?” I glance over my shoulder at the glowing ‘open’ sign. “Now?”

She snorts out a laugh as she reaches underneath an ancient cash register, pulling out a bottle of golden liquid with a cork stopper and no label.

“What is that?” I ask, giving her offering a dubious look.

“Honey mead. I make my own. It’s quite good, actually.”

“No thanks. I don’t usually drink before five.” And I’ve never had homemade booze in my life. Even though I’m salivating, despite my words. Not sure if that’s because I want to forget the stuff Vicks just told me or if it’s to help process it.

She pulls two lowball glasses from under the counter and pours a hefty amount into both of them. Either she can read minds or she ignored me when I declined her offer. She pushes one of them across the glass surface toward my hand, and I grab it before it tips over the edge and races to shatter on the floor.

“If I didn’t know your mother, I’d find that statement very strange. I still do, but at least I understand where it comes from.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Your mom is pretty damn neurotic. So it’s not surprising some of her issues rubbed off on you.”

Hey, that’s my mom she’s talking about. And me, for that matter. “Your mom isn’t exactly a saint, either.”

“Never said she was. In fact, her very obvious lack of sainthood is probably what lured your dad away from your mom. I bet your mom was just as high-strung in bed as she was in the rest of her life.”

An unbidden image of my parents having sex pops into my head. Ugh. I lift the glass of mead to my lips and take a shaky sip. It’s spicy and sweet, like honey laced with jalapeño, and it helps push the idea of my mother having sex—any sex, high-strung or not—out of my head.

“This feels like it’s turning into a mother bashing contest,” I say, taking another drink. This one goes down far more smoothly. Which is saying something, because that first swallow wasn’t bad at all.

“Okay, let’s stop,” Vicks says easily enough. She lifts her glass. “How is it?”

“Surprisingly good.”

She gives her drink a dubious look. “Surprisingly?”

“Nothing personal,” I assure her while continuing to sip away. “It’s just I’ve never had honey mead before, and certainly not homemade. But I like it.”

“Oh. Okay.” She touches the rim of her glass to mine. “To rekindled friendships.”

I like that. As much as she teased me and I harassed her when we were kids, Vicks had been the calming influence in my life before my dad and her mom managed to turn our worlds upside down with their stupid affair. I haven’t felt that same sense of relaxation since. I didn’t even realize I missed it until this moment.

“It’s so good to have you back, Vicks.”

She lifts her glass, touches the rim to mine. “It’s surprisingly good to be here, although I returned to Chicago eight years ago.”

“What the hell took you so long to come back into my life?” I ask, my filter giving out again. Or maybe it’s the mead, because my glass is empty.

“Can I have a refill?”

Keep reading!

Misti Murphy, New Release, Romance, Sexy Bad Books, Tami Lund

Coming Soon – Another Addition to the Sexy Bad Series (chapter 2)

Have you read chapter 1 yet? READ IT HERE

Okay, now that you’re back, here’s another teaser… because we know you love a good tease!

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CHAPTER TWO

RONNIE

“Unbelievable.” Storming into my office, I throw the armful of folders and swatches I’m carrying onto my desk. That promotion was supposed to be mine.

Five years I’ve worked for Tom “Jackass” Pascal, designing and decorating for his more prestigious clients. For magazine photo shoots and movie sets. Giving them exactly what they want no matter how many hoops I have to jump through. Hell, if our clients tell me they want the head of Carey Grant in a jar on their mantelpiece to authenticate an old-world Hollywood glamour theme, I’m the woman to make it happen. Half of Tom’s clients are only with him because of me. I’m the reason we have so much repeat business. I make the impossible possible.

And he’s promoting Carl Blue? Over me?

The bastard doesn’t even do the work. He leaves it up to his assistant and takes the credit. Carl’s biggest accomplishment is pinching the office girls’ butts like he was born with the privilege. And Tom gave him my promotion.

I drop into my leather chair and start ripping files out of the drawers while I use my cell to order an Uber. I may have quit. Or he might have fired me when I started cussing about how pathetic his men’s club rules are. Either way, I’m done. But Carl isn’t getting his grubby hands on my work. I flip the switch on the shredder and start ripping the papers out of the files, forcing them into the machine. It groans and grinds. That’s it baby, take it all.

My phone rings and I put it on speaker. “Hello?”

“Hey, sexy, you got a minute?” Danny asks.

“Not really. I’m in the middle of something.” I have all the time in the world. Or I will when I finish trashing the last five years of my life. I have no idea what I’m going to do after I finish shredding my files. I might ring every last one of my clients and tell them Pascal Design and Décor is no longer in business. Give them the name of a few of my favorite competitors.

“I only need two minutes. It’s about that favor I did for you.”

He’d been a real champ coming to Yvonne’s rescue. She’d gushed about him last night after the event. Her only complaint was that she’d asked him back to her apartment for a nightcap and he’d politely declined.

For a full three seconds I’d gaped at my phone. Maybe it was the shrimp, I’d told her. Sometimes he has a problem with it. He must have been feeling off. Couldn’t imagine anything else that would keep him from his favorite hobby.

I open my laptop and start deleting everything, including backups. “Can we make this quick?”

“Music to my ears,” he says. “I love a good quickie.”

“Danny.” How does he manage to always make everything into a joke? And almost always about sex? “I don’t have time for this. I’m hanging up.”

“Okay. The point. I want to go into business.”

“What?” My hand jerks, knocking my phone off the desk. It clatters to the floor before I can get a hold of it. “Sorry. What did you say?”

“I want to go into business.”

“Doing what?” The last file flutters away to the trash bin, and I click to empty it.

“Dating,” he says. “Well, escorting, actually. Like I did for Yvonne. I’d be good at it, don’t you think?”

Picking up the remains of this morning’s coffee, I pour it over my laptop keyboard. Let Tom deal with that in whatever way he sees fit. “You do have a way with the ladies. From what I’ve seen.”

“Exactly. So why not use it to my advantage and get paid for my services? Rent-A-Danny. Women who never knew they needed a Danny will get the pleasure of my company. For a price, of course.”

“I guess.” I pick up an empty cardboard box that recently held files and start shoving my personal effects into it. My synthetic potted fern because I can’t manage to keep a real one alive. The stapler, hole punch, a bunch of pens, a few stress balls with the company logo. They’ll come in handy when I want to pretend it’s Tom’s head I’m crushing.

“I’ll be doing what I love and making money off of it.”

Everything is a joke to this guy. It comes through in his tone, in the things he says, which is why it catches my attention now when that vanishes from our conversation.

“Aren’t you always telling me I need to consider my future?” he asks.

“Well, yes, but—”

“I want you to be my manager, Ronnie. Hook me up like you did with Yvonne. Help me find clients and book dates and run the business side of things.”

“No. I don’t think…” I glance around my office. At the ruined laptop with coffee seeping out of it, a brown puddle staining the desk, and the stalks of paper that forced the lid up on the shredder and spewed down the side onto the floor.

“Come on, Ronnie. I kind of need you for this idea to work.”

I don’t have a job. I have no reason to stay in New York. My family is all in Chicago. I’m not even sure I still want to chase design as a career right now. A break from designing and a chance to regroup could be what I need. It’ll give me time to figure out my next step. And Rent-A-Danny isn’t a bad idea. Danny’s right that he would be good at it. He’s hot, too, in a laid-back, couldn’t-care-less kind of way girls seem to like. “You know what? I’m in.”

“You’re in? This could really happen.” He sounds staggered.

“Sure. Why not?”

“It’s just that convincing you was a helluva lot easier than I expected it to be.”

“It’s a good idea,” I tell him.

“You really think so?”

“I do. I can think of a dozen women off the top of my head who would pay for your services. And you already have Yvonne’s glowing recommendation. We’ll need to work out a marketing campaign and—”

“We should have dinner to go over the details,” he says. “You, me, and your hot little Amex. Fly back for the weekend?”

“My hot little Amex?” And he’s back to regular, never-not-joking Danny.

“Yeah. Afterward we can go back to my place to sign the contract. Or bang. Or both.”

“Pick me up from the airport on Friday.”

“Seriously?” He purrs. “You know I always picture you wearing a red thong. How about you wear the one you’ve got on now so when we bang, all my fantasies will come true.”

“Oh my God. There’s not a single person in this universe that line will work on.”

“Well, actually—”

“Danny,” I shriek. I force my voice back to its lower, steadier tone as I pull the waist of my stretchy skirt enough to catch a glimpse of my underwear. How could he possibly have known? “I have never worn a red thong in my life, so you can banish that ridiculous fantasy right now. There will be no hanky-panky.”

“I like it when you’re bossy,” he says. “You’ve got a very sexy voice.”

“Jesus, Danny.” I jump up and put the desk phone in the box too. “We are not having a repeat of the other morning. Just pick me up.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Oh, and don’t tell Erin. I’m not ready for my family to know.”

“Gotcha,” he says. “It’ll be our own little covert operation.”

“Thanks.” I sigh. I’m not ready to tell them that I was fired. Quit. Whatever. This would never happen to Garrett, James, or Paynt. They’ll probably want to fix it or offer me a job to tide me over. No, thank you.

“See you on Friday. Text me when you know the details. And if you need a place to crash for the weekend, you’re always welcome in my bed.”

“That’s not going to happen. You and I are never going to happen.”

He chuckles. “A man can dream.”

“And he can keep dreaming.”

“All right. I’ll see you then.” He hangs up, and I yank the cords out of the socket and bundle them into the box too.

Picking up the box, I make my way to the door before giving the space that was my office one last glance. I used to believe that if I tried hard enough to carve myself a nook in a field I was good at, it would be enough. But it isn’t. Not when there are people like Carl Blue involved. Still, I’ll miss this place, even though part of me wants to set it all on fire.

I take a cleansing breath. I just agreed to go into business with a man who can’t be serious to save himself. And why? Why did I do that? Because if nothing else it will be fun. A challenge, too. I’m moving right into a male-dominated industry, and I’m going to succeed, damn it. I can just imagine the reactions from my brothers if they found out. Their only sister practically giving a middle finger to the male hierarchy and doing something as off-kilter as being a pimp. My mother would probably need to be treated for shock. Her perfect expectations for me would be dashed.

My assistant, a talented woman in her own right, walks into the room. Her eyes widen as she glances at the mess and gives me a sympathetic smile. “We’ll miss you, Ronnie. If you need an assistant when you get settled elsewhere…”

“I’ll give you a call.” I march past her and out of Pascal Design and Décor.

The office girls cheer me as I pass them.

Carl stands on the pavement out front. My very own leaving party. Smoke from the Camel Light in his hand wafts with the breeze. Not going to miss that smell at all. He drops the butt on the concrete and crushes it with the heel of his wingtip as he leers at me. “Going to miss you, sweet cheeks.”

Moving the box under one arm, I flip him the bird as I walk to the waiting Uber.

***

Getting off the plane, I haul my suitcase behind me. It’s not much, but it will do for now. I sold off my furniture, and the rest of my stuff is in storage until I find somewhere to live. Everything else of my New York life is wrapped up and finalized. Even said goodbye to the hot, tatted up photographer I’d been seeing. Such a shame. We’d had some fun times these past few weeks. I’ll miss his motorcycle more, though.

The guy I was seated next to on the plane catches up with me. He’s carrying a heavy leather motorcycle jacket and a duffel bag. I might have flirted with him on the trip. He did offer to take me around town on the back of his bike. Tempting.

“You forgot to give me your number,” he says.

“Did I?” I ask coyly. He has a wicked swagger and full sleeve tats under that tight shirt. The kind of guy who won’t want me to meet his mother or have me barefoot and pregnant before our first date is over. Usually that’d make him a solid ten for me, but after this week, I’m not feeling it. I hold out my hand for his phone. “Here, let me.”

He hands it over, and I type in the number to the Planned Parenthood clinic near the high school I went to. Man looks like he could use as much contraception as he can get. Handing it back to him, I spot Danny and leave my new friend behind.

“Hold on, let me call you so you have mine.”

I turn around long enough to hold my hand to my ear as though it’s a phone and mouth “call me” before sprinting off. Maybe he’ll get a kick out of it when he rings the number. He should definitely take it as a compliment.

“Hey, sexy.” Danny grins. He slings an arm around my shoulder and steals my suitcase the second I’m within reach. “Saw you getting friendly with Butch back there. You know you don’t have to try to make me jealous. This game between us is fun, but all you have to do is ask and I’m all yours.”

“You’re not my type.” I shrug off his arm.

“Sure I am. I’m everybody’s type.”

“Get hit on by a lot of men?” We leave the terminal. His car is parked in the no parking lane, of course. It’s hard to tell if he was trying to get it towed or he seriously doesn’t think about things like that.

“Actually, I do. It’s almost unfortunate I don’t swing both ways.”

“And here I thought all it took was a heartbeat.”

He laughs as he slings my suitcase into the trunk. Full of heart and not at all cynical. Boy, it must be nice to not have to think past a night. Or worry about what some other person’s expectations of you will be. There’s always someone who thinks they know better than I do when it comes to what to do with my life. Even my own mother, but then she’s so hung up on babies… Christ, she is going to have so much fun when I tell her I’m home for good. No more long-distance matchmaking. All straight up local boys now. God help me.

He opens the door and waits for me to climb in before jogging around to his own side. “So where are you staying?”

“I booked a hotel room.” I pull the directions up on my phone and show them to him. Far enough away from my family that they won’t immediately realize I’m home for good. At least not until I find somewhere more permanent to live.

“Don’t you usually stay with Paynt and Chloe? Need some space so you can bang Butch?”

“Hank, and it’s none of your business if I want to bang him, as you so enjoy putting it.” I stare out the window as he pulls into traffic.

“So you like them rascally. But you don’t like me?”

“It’s not that I don’t like you, Danny.” I exhale. “I have bad taste when it comes to men. Like incredibly bad.”

“Wow. You’re slipping.”

“What?”

“You just admitted you like me. You find me cute, don’t you? I knew I could wear you down.”

“Yeah, like a puppy.” I chuckle. It’s hard not to find him cute, though I will never admit that I’ve developed a soft spot for his humor. Or that once or twice I’ve actually considered taking him up on his offer to sleep with him just to quash the slight buzz of attraction between us. Like now as he shifts gear and his arm brushes against mine.

“It’s because I don’t have any tattoos, right? Or a motorcycle?” He glances at me as he changes lanes and smirks. “Because I promise I’ve got something far better.”

“We’re friends,” I say, ignoring the idea he’s trying to put in my head. I’ve been around long enough to know men like to exaggerate about everything. “Or family, considering my niece calls you uncle. We’re something. I don’t know.”

“Business partners,” he offers.

“That too. Which is another good reason why when I say no, I mean it. We have to work together. We need to make some ground rules right now or this isn’t going to work. Like this idea that you have of us hooking up can’t happen. It’d complicate things.”

“Hey. Hold on,” he says. “The only way sleeping together gets complicated is if you have expectations. I’m just suggesting we share one fantastic night with your V wrapped around my P. A once-in-a-lifetime, rootin’-tootin’ good time. There’s nothing complicated about jumping in the sack for a little fun before we get down to business. Might even help you sell the service if you sample the wares first.”

“That’s a good point,” I tell him.

“It is?” His eyebrows shoot up into his scruffy, dirty-blond hair.

“No. Not jumping into the sack with you.” I pull up a fresh document on my phone. “But what are you willing to do for your clients? And not willing? Where’s the line for Rent-A-Danny? What can our clients expect?”

“Can’t we leave the business until dinner?” He flutters his fingers against the steering wheel as though waving the idea away. “I really want to know what you think is so complicated.”

“Fine.” I exhale, putting my phone down. Like a puppy with a bone, he just can’t drop the subject no matter how hard I try. “I don’t like guys who want things from me.”

“Like what?”

“Like anything.” I shrug. “I have this ability to attract guys who think I should be little Miss Suzie Homemaker, or they want me to meet their mother. They decide I’m a keeper, but all I want is to have fun. I have other goals.”

“Isn’t that what I’m offering?” He frowns at me as he pulls into the circle drive in front of my hotel. “Fun. I don’t want you to meet my mother.”

“No.” I smile. He doesn’t. And he’s almost still a kid himself, at least mentally. The last thing I need is a boy man developing a crush on me. “But you know my mother, and that’s worse.”

“You’re not interested because I know your mother?”

“It’s part of it.” We climb out of the car, and he takes my suitcase out of the trunk. “Have you not noticed of late that she has certain expectations for her children?”

“Babies. Lots of grandbabies.” He nods. “Erin and Garrett are happily obliging her.”

“So are Paynt and Chloe. And James and Myra. But it’s easier for them. There was no pressure on them to find the right girl to settle down with. Only on the grandbabies part. For me, well, once she knows I’m home, she’ll be calling nonstop to organize dates with her plumber’s son or her doctor’s grandson. She thinks I need something different from what I want in my life, and I don’t want to disappoint her. If I made the mistake of… you know, she’d find out and we’d never hear the end of it. And that would make any fun we might have complicated.”

“I get it,” he says, and I think he actually does.

“So we can agree?” I take my suitcase from him. “Let’s concentrate on building Rent-A-Danny.”

“Absolutely.”

“Pick me up at seven?” I ask as he walks around the car to go.

“I’ll be here.” He taps his fingers on the roof. “And I’ll think about what you were saying about what our customers can expect from our service.”

“Great.”

He climbs into the car and pulls out of the driveway as I drag my suitcase through the hotel doors.

to be continued… on September 18, 2018 

Misti Murphy, New Release, Romance, Sexy Bad Books, Tami Lund

Coming Soon – Another Addition to the Sexy Bad Series

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(It’s the best one yet, according to our editor!)

Chapter One

DANNY

 

“We’re such a cliché.” I place a glass of red wine in front of the lovely, dark-haired lady I’ve been eyeing all evening and then grab the chair next to her, shifting it closer before dropping into it.

She arches one eyebrow but doesn’t move away as my leg brushes hers. “I realize we’re at a wedding, but we haven’t slept together. So how are we a cliché?”

“We should sleep together. I’m pretty sure you’d like it.”

“Pretty sure?”

The bride at today’s wedding is my best friend Erin, and the lady I’m sitting with, Veronica “call me Ronnie” Frost, is now officially her sister-in-law. Ronnie’s also hot as fuck, eight years older than me, and completely unobtainable. Which makes this chase both fun and safe.

I shrug and take a pull from my beer. “I mean, we won’t know until we try, right?”

Shaking her head, she says, “Danny, you have a pretty face, a rather spectacular body, from what I’ve seen, anyway—”

“Do you want to see more?”

“No. Because you are lousy at this game. This back and forth we do, this isn’t what women want.”

“How do you know what women want?”

“Because I happen to be one.” There’s annoyance in her voice, like I’ve struck a nerve. What, was she a man in a past life?

Leaning forward, I let my hand fall to her knee, cupping her leg just below the hem of her dress. It’s a dark green sleeveless number with a cowl neck and a flouncy skirt, and I want to smooth my hand up under it to check to see if she’s wearing panties. If she is, I bet it’s a thong. Probably matches the dress. No, it’d be fire-engine red. I’m getting hard just thinking about it.

And I know damn well I’ll never get a shot at finding out. To be honest, I’m surprised she’s letting my hand hover on her knee right now.

“You are definitely that,” I agree. “So tell me, what do women want?”

She glances at the white silk tents set up in her brother’s backyard, at the party guests mingling about. It’s the third wedding here in a year. All three of her brothers are now hitched. She’s the last single Frost sibling. How does that make her feel?

“Maybe I’m not the best person to ask,” she says quietly, and there’s something in her voice that makes me want to drop the bawdy act and be real for a minute, maybe reassure her that she isn’t the only one with secret wishes. Which is weird, because I’ve been this guy for ten years, since my junior year in high school, when I figured out being the class clown was a potential way to convince people to like me, since I pretty much sucked at every sport known to the human race and couldn’t figure out any other way to make it happen.

“Why not?” I arch brows that are pale, blond, a little bushy, not dark and perfectly manicured like hers.

She shakes her head. “I’m not like most women.”

I squeeze her leg. “Tell me more.”

She sips the wine I’ve brought her. “Most women want love and affection. Adoration. S—”

“Sex.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Look, you aren’t gonna win this argument. My best friend is a woman. She tells me everything. You wanna know how many times she and your brother get it on in any given week? In any given night?”

“God, no. And does Garrett know she shares such intimate details about their personal life?”

“Sure. Because I make it a point to tell him. And then Erin gets mad at me. And then Abby tells her not to be mad at her favorite uncle Danny. It’s our little routine.”

“Everything is a game to you, isn’t it?”

Leaning back in my chair, I drape an arm across the back of hers, deliberately stroking my fingers against her dress. Don’t feel a bra strap. Didn’t think I would. And now I’m even harder than I was over the idea of her wearing a red thong.

“Yeah, it pretty much is.” Life’s easier that way. No one expects me to be responsible, take ownership. And I never have to let anyone down. It’s a genius plan, frankly.

“That is no way to get through life.”

“I’ve been doing pretty well so far.” Especially now that Erin and Garrett have bought a house with a mother-in-law suite in their walk-out basement. Or, as I prefer to call it, Danny’s Love Den.

“No, you haven’t. You’re drifting through life, mooching off your friends. Do you have any idea what you want to be when you grow up?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Married to a hot, wealthy woman because her secret fantasy is to bang the pool boy on a permanent basis, maybe?”

Her eyes get darker, cooler, and whatever’s going on in her head, she is through with this conversation.

“What, is that your fantasy or something? If that’s the case, I’m in.” I spread my arms wide, inviting her to have her wicked way with me.

She stands, graceful as a gazelle, lofty as a cat. “Absolutely not.”

But then she smooths the front of her skirt and bends over me, swiping her wineglass off the table. I ogle the glorious yet brief view down her top, and I’m wondering if she did that on purpose, despite the sudden coolness and her insistence about not playing games.

“Sweet dreams, Danny.” And then she’s gone, sashaying across the yard, heading toward her older brother, James, who’s cradling his three-month-old daughter in one arm with the other wrapped around his wife, Myra.

A goat with multi-colored ribbons tied around its neck and a bouquet of daisies in its mouth trots across Ronnie’s path and she halts, waiting for the young, dark-haired girl who’s chasing it to rush by. A white duck waddles in the girl’s wake, followed by a slinking Siamese cat. Anyone who didn’t know the Frost family would think the circus was in town.

After checking both ways for the all clear, Ronnie continues strutting toward her brother. I presume she’s saying goodbye.

Damn. Struck out again.

Exactly the way it’s supposed to go down.

***

“I need a favor.”

Yawning, I stretch, wince at the sliver of sunlight trying to peek through the crack in the blinds. What time is it, anyway? And who the hell’s on my phone? The voice is female, sexy, and familiar, but I can’t quite place it.

“Did you hear me?”

“Who is this?” I ask without opening my eyes and looking at the screen on my phone.

“Ronnie.”

Ronnie. My brain’s fuzzy, not functioning on all cylinders at the moment. Last night had been another bar night, another hot chick to chase. This one had recently broken up with her boyfriend and was looking for a satisfying way to take out her anger over all the time she’d wasted on the loser, so we’d started playing pool—on her dime, of course—against another couple, betting on shots bought. Turns out, she’s a shark, and I’d appreciated every drink the other team had to buy us.

I finally pry my eyes open and glance at the rumpled sheets next to me. Nope. Hadn’t gotten lucky, unless she snuck out at some point in the night. But I’m pretty sure I stumbled home alone after last call.

As usual.

“Danny. Hello? Are you there?”

“Yeah. Ronnie. Oh shit, Garrett’s sister. Hey, sexy.”

You don’t even remember me? We’ve known each other well over a year by now.” Her indignation is practically beating me over the head with a broom all the way from New York.

“And you’ve called me how many times? Plus, I’m barely awake.” And now I’m sporting wood, because damn, her voice is hot.

“For Christ’s sake. Are you really still in bed? Do you realize it’s noon on a Wednesday? Well, I suppose it’s only eleven in Chicago, but still. That’s ridiculous.”

“Did you call to ask for a favor? Because this conversation isn’t exactly winning me over at the moment.” Despite her prickliness, my woody isn’t deflating. I should probably do something about that. I flip the sheet off my legs and lazily grasp the stiff appendage, give it a couple strokes.

Yeah, that’s definitely feeling better. I squirt a dollop of lotion into my hand and return it to my cum gun. “But keep talking. Tell me about this favor. Go into graphic detail.” I’d be sweet if it involves sex.

She makes a noise that sounds like a cross between a growl and a sigh, and I give my sharp shooter another few strokes.

“I have a friend there in Chicago. Her boyfriend recently broke up with her. Bad breakup, his fault, and he’s being a real prick about splitting up the furniture in the apartment they were renting together. Even trying to take her cat, which, by the way, she brought into the relationship.”

“Mmm-hmm.” I’m picturing Ronnie in that red thong I’m convinced she wears every damn day. I’ve choked the chicken to that image too many times to count in the past week and a half. And here’s to one more. Oh yeah…

“She has to go to an event tonight. A work function. And he’ll be there. Probably with some bimbo hanging on his arm.”

My breathing is choppy as I ask, “So what’s the favor?” I’m still holding out hope it involves sex. That will definitely send me over the edge at this point.

“I’d like you to go as her date. I’ll pay you for your time.”

“Fu-u-uck.” Several more jerks and I shoot my load, white streamers that pool on my abdomen. Grabbing the towel I keep on my bedside table for exactly these occasions, I swipe at the mess and then drop my head back to the pillows while I exhale loudly.

“What are you doing?”

I don’t respond, mostly because I’m still trying to catch my breath. She’s so fucking hot in my fantasies.

“Are you—good God, tell me you aren’t masturbating?”

“Not anymore,” I say on gusty breath.

“I can’t believe you.”

“You have something against pleasuring oneself?”

“No, of course not. It’s just—you did it while I was trying to talk to you.”

“That’s called phone sex. You’re good at it. Your voice is kinda low, gravelly, really—”

“I wasn’t even participating!”

“You mean you’d participate in phone sex? With me?” I’m liking the sound of this…

“Absolutely not. Can we get back to the topic at hand, please?”

I chuckle. I can’t help it. And I can practically hear her teeth grinding.

“Now I’m questioning my sanity in even asking you for this favor.”

“Why? Because I like to get off on occasion? Well, honestly, it’s way more than occasionally. I’m not gonna lie. It’s—”

“My friend,” she says, that coolness back in her voice that should probably put me in my place.

“Your friend,” I say solemnly, because now that my brain is functioning, I’m curious as to why my best friend’s husband’s sister would call me. Usually, when she wants me to do odd jobs like help plan her brothers’ weddings or mow her parents’ yard as a Father’s Day gift, she talks to me through Erin.

“So will you be my friend’s date tonight? I’ll make it worth your while.”

She already has. “Tell me more.”

***

The friend is hot. Her hair’s this lavender color, which isn’t something I’m usually into, but it works for her. With her pale skin tone and that light blue dress she’s wearing, it really works, actually. And those stilettos could make me forget my fantasy of Ronnie in a red thong tonight.

The friend is also a hot mess.

“Thanks again for agreeing to be my date tonight,” she says when I take her hand and tuck it into the crook of my elbow before we head into the building where this work function is happening. Her name is Yvonne, and she’s a manager at a software development company. Apparently, it’s supposed to be announced tonight that the stock is splitting, making most of the people in that room awfully damn rich. Oh yeah, and Yvonne is about to become president, as the current guy is retiring.

“I’m so nervous,” she whispers. “I hope no one figures out you’re being paid to be my date.”

I’d have done it for free, for the hell of it, but when Ronnie mentioned the five hundred bucks she’d give me, I wasn’t stupid enough to turn her down. I need bar night money, after all. And I need a new pair of golf shoes for when Garrett finally relents and buys me a membership at his favorite golf club.

“They’ll only figure it out if you tell them,” I say, patting her hand. “Trust me. Just relax and enjoy yourself. And if, throwing yourself at me when you see your ex makes you feel better, I promise to stay in character.”

She giggles and blushes. It’s at odds with how high up she is in this company. How can this woman be strong enough to be selected to run a corporation, but she’s scared of going to a dinner party without a date?

We step into a ballroom done in black and gold, with massive, sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I guide my date straight to the nearest bar, because she definitely needs some liquid courage.

“Two martinis,” I tell the bubble gum-popping bartender. “No, make them cosmos,” I say after glancing at Yvonne, who’s chewing on her thumbnail while her gaze bounces all over the place.

“Cosmos?” Some guy leans around me to look at Yvonne. “For who?”

Yvonne’s grip on my arm is cutting off the circulation, and her face has gone so pale she’s practically transparent. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess this is the ex-boyfriend. He’s got a head full of thick, greased back, dark hair, and a raccoon-like tan line around his brown eyes. If he hasn’t watched every single mafia movie known to man and believes he should be living that lifestyle, I’ll eat Abby’s plastic pet goat.

“Me and my date,” I tell him, prying off Yvonne’s hand so I can wrap my arm around her waist and pull her tightly against my side.

“Cosmos are for girls,” Slimeball says. “Although I’ve never seen you drink one before, Yvonne.”

The tender places our drinks in front of us, and I pluck a fiver out of my wallet and drop it on the bar. Always tip your bartender, even if it’s an open bar.

Handing Yvonne her pink drink, I touch the rim of my glass to hers and say, “To my girl.”

“Your what?” Gino or Frankie or whatever the hell this guy wishes his name was is staring at us, his eyes bugging out of his face. “What the hell is this asshole saying, Yvonne? You’ve moved on already? Are you fucking kidding me?”

She gulps her drink and twists her head to and fro, shaking like a leaf. “N-no,” she manages to choke out before lifting the glass to her lips again.

“Yeah, we’re just fucking,” I say. “Although she’s so hot in bed, I’m not in a hurry to move on.”

The guy’s face is turning so red, even the tan lines around his eyes are boiling. Yvonne’s gaping, looking at me like she can’t decide if I’m her savior or her worst nightmare.

“Oh wait,” I say, motioning with my martini glass. “You’re the ex. The cheating loser.”

Predictably, he’s in my face, and the pink liquid in my glass somehow tips and lands on his previously pristine white shirt. Such a shame, because that was one of the best cosmos I’ve ever had.

“Goddamn it.” He gives me a shove, and my back slams into the bar with enough force to rattle the glasses and make the bartender squeal. The banquet manager heads our way to see if she can be of service. He cusses her out, just for being in the vicinity, I guess, and she storms away. When she returns, it’s with three burly guys in suits with those twisty, black earbud thingies in their ears. Security, I assume, as I watch them bodily escort the pissed off Italian out of the party.

“You’re welcome,” I tell my date, and then I order another cosmo.

“Ronnie was right about you,” Yvonne says. “You’re amazing.” Her eyes are all glassy and she’s grinning from ear to ear. I guess I’ve officially been relegated to savior.

Wait, what did she just say? “Ronnie thinks I’m amazing?”

Yvonne’s head bobs. “Yes. And you should do this for a living. I’m happy to give you a glowing reference. I can’t tell you how scared I was of coming tonight, just because he would be here. And now he’s gone, and I feel like I can go up on that stage and confidently tell these people that I will lead this company to the next level. Not only that, but I’m going to fire his ass tomorrow. Or maybe tonight. Maybe I’ll do it while I’m giving my speech.” Now there’s a sparkle in her eyes, the sort someone gets when they’ve just plotted the sweetest revenge.

“And it’s all because of you,” she adds. “Seriously. You should start a business. Rent-A-Date.”

“No, Rent-A-Danny,” I say, warming to her idea.

Yeah, I really like this idea. And I know exactly who should be my manager.

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Release Date: September 18, 2018